Winter Writers’ Retreat and Something to Think About

Ann Lee Brown and I will be facilitating a writers’ weekend at Breath of Life Retreat House in Pine, AZ this February. If you’d like more details about this, please go here:

We’d love to have you join us!

Now, let’s consider this quote:


That’s a tall order, right? First of all, loving oneself sounds selfish, but then, “…Love your neighbor as yourself” clarified that eons ago. It’s just that we didn’t get it.

Actually, becoming what we were meant to be brings great satisfaction to our creator, just as living a fulfilled life pleases one’s mother and father.

This lesson’s a tough one to learn for those reared from a shame-based foundation. Those of you who know Dottie and Addie, my two fiction characters (so far) are familiar with their line of thinking. And many of us engage in the same old mental channels.

But let me say between the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas, how grateful I am for avenues out of that sort of thinking. Sure, the transition takes time, as my heroines Addie and Dottie experienced. But the struggle ranks right up there in the WORTHWHILE category.

In a little over two months, Addie and Kate’s stories will continue as WITH EACH NEW DAWN is released. The lessons from In Times Like These will serve them well–you’ll see!!

Ada Brownell – free book!

Ada Brownell visits us today with a word about thanksgiving.  Peach Blossom Rancher, her Inspirational Historical Romance, will be free 11/20 to 11/24 on Amazon: A handsome young man inherits a ranch in ruins, hopes to bring it back to its former glory and also marry a beautiful young widow who is an attorney. But she takes up the case of a brilliant doctor committed to an asylum because of one seizure. Will the rancher, the attorney, and the asylum patient achieve their dreams?

Suspense, romance, humor, murder, insanity, hope, fun, wrapped in a Western you won’t forget.

 Go for it!! Enjoy this free read!

Rancher cover 1


By Ada Nicholson Brownell

 “’Four thousand praised the Lord with the instruments I made,’ said David, ‘to praise, therewith’” (1 Chronicles 23:5 KJ).

I had no idea how one would go about making a musical instrument until my brother, Dr. Joe Nicholson,demonstrated how to make a trumpet. He took 4 ½ feet of tubing, actually garden hose, and a funnel for one end and put a brass mouthpiece in the other.

Then he blew. It sounded almost exactly like the brass instrument as he played a short tune. Then he used 9 feet of hose for a trombone or baritone. The sound deepened. For a tuba it took 18 feet and the notes  were way down there.

People have been known to make music with reeds picked along a river. The ancients made sounds with leaves and blew on ram’s horns. Rhythm instruments can be made of most anything, including gourds to shake and jugs to blow. Kids often play tunes on a comb and paper.

David could engage metalsmiths to make brass instruments, and use various talented folks to create stringed instruments out of wood or other materials.But musical instruments go back as far as Genesis and Adam and Eve.  We’re told, “And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ” (Genesis 4:21).

I wonder if the word “Jubilant” was penned after him. Jubilant means “showing great joy, satisfaction, or triumph; rejoicing; exultant.”

The next verse names Zillah, one of Adam and Eve’s great-granddaughters. She bare Tubalcain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron. Maybe he made trumpets as well as tools.

Quite a lot of difference between what the Bible says and what my college textbook claimed about the beginning of music. “A monkey came down out of tree and made an instrument,” the book said, and I laughed.

Music is used in worship to the only true God who created the heavens and the earth. When David was chosen to take his rightful place as God’s anointed king, David not only went after the ark but worked diligently to re-establish true worship. That included joyful music and singing.

But before they could properly play, sing, and combine their voices they needed to be organized. The Levites dusted off their talents and divided into groups according to their ministries because during Saul’s reign they had brought in idols and neglected worshiping God.

David wrote, “Praise him with the sound of the trumpet; praise him with the psaltery and harp, praise him with timbrel and dance; praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:3-6).

So they praised the Lord all the way as they carried the Ark home.

PRAYER: Lord, I praise you for breath, for music, and for who you are, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, my Savior, and my soon Coming King.
Read sample chapters of Ada’s books on Amazon

Connect with Ada at:


Twitter: @adabrownell

Amazon Ada Brownell author page:



Blog: Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement

Love in the Seams

Today I’d like to welcome, Jodie Wolfe. I understand you recently released a new book. Can you tell us about it?

Social Media 2015

Thank you for having me here today, Gail. I look forward to getting to know you and your readers better.

Love in the Seams is book two in my Twins & Needles Series. Here’s what it says on the back cover.

Seams Cover-promo-web


Mae Stafford longs for the companionship and unconditional love her sister has found in her new husband. But after years of refusing potential suitors because of a pact they made as children, Mae no longer has any choices left once their agreement is broken. She’s given up hope that God will give her what she desires most, a family of her own.



Instead of dwelling on what she doesn’t have, she throws herself into her work in her recently acquired local dress shop.

As a promise made to his late wife, Johannes Mueller agrees to travel west to be a school teacher in Calder Springs, Texas, away from the bigotry associated with being an immigrant in New York City. He hopes to improve his life and forget his loss. Johannes isn’t counting on his five-year-old daughter’s search for a new mother when they arrive.

His little LillyAnn finds ways to bring the seamstress and him together…often. Can he learn to embrace his German heritage and unlock his heart to love again?

I understand your first book is about Mae Stafford’s twin sister, Ellie, is that correct?

Yes. Hearts Tightly Knit is built on the premise of twin sisters who made a vow to always stay together and never marry. I wondered what it would take to persuade one of them to change their minds.

 In your new novella, Mae Stafford is a seamstress. Do you sew?

I do, some. I made a Victorian outfit that I wore at a genre dinner at an ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference a couple years ago. While I do enjoy sewing, my favorite craft is knitting.

GOOD GRIEF! I call that really sewing, girl! I do ok w/buttons and hems, but …

 Do you have any final thoughts to share about your writing?

The goal of my writing is to point to my Heavenly Father and the hope we can have in Him, no matter what our circumstances.

 Where can readers find you and purchase your book?


Purchase Link:







Fiction Finder:

Blogs I contribute to: Stitches Thru Time, Putting on the New and of course, Quid Pro Quills.

Thanks, Jodie. I hope your book sells extremely well.

Thank you for allowing me to stop by today, Gail to speak to your readers. I’m giving away a free sewing kit to one lucky commenter between now and November 19th. Winner will be notified.

A Wild Raccoon and Some Outstanding Hens


My husband snapped this photo during my Southwest Iowa book tour this past week. By the way, that area of our state is knock-down gorgeous! Rolling hills, serene towns, village squares, many restored turn-of-the century bulldings (like Ed and Eva’s in Greenfield- thanks again, Ken, for the tour. What an amazing building your community has to enjoy!)

Along the way, Lance sent me this photo, and when I arrived home after visiting several public libraries – Adair, Anita, Winterset, Creston, Red Oak, and La Vista in Nebraska – I asked how he ever managed to take this shot.


Turns out our little raccoon friend had gotten caught in a trap, so Lance spoke with our local policeman. Hopefully, they were able to help the frightened creature. Such remarkable coloring – you’d never know by looking that this animal was held prisoner. So much we don’t notice until we get the full story, eh?

Isn’t that the way it is with people? We interact with all sorts, and since I’m an inveterate “people person,” I really enjoy meeting new folks who attend my book talks. Sometimes we strike up a friendship and continue to communicate, and often, I learn more about the person’s background.

Maybe they’re caught in a trap of sorts, like Addie was seventy-five years ago as the Pearl Harbor attack thrust the U.S. into WWII . Maybe they’re just waiting for a new friend to show up, offering fresh ideas and alternatives they’ve never considered.

My cousin Carolyn allows me to stop and collapse in her spare bedroom on these trips, and she sent me a great photo a few minutes ago. Their pet hens, each with a distinct personality, produced something they’d been waiting for this morning. A blue egg amongst the brown …pretty cool!


Carolyn and her son creatively named the hens. The blue-egg layers (Ameraucana) answer to Mamie Eisenhenner and Martha Cluckington. What’s not to love about that?


No chance either of these ladies would ever get caught in a trap, unlike the thousand hens running loose on my grandparents’ farm in Addie’s era. Nope, these hens enjoy a fenced-in home, complete with a light to encourage more egg-laying as the cold sets in.



Back to my book tour.  My gratitude goes to all the library directors who advertised my visit and continue to promote my books, and those readers who’ve told me Addie’s story intrigued them and piqued their interest in World War II history.

We often discuss rationing at these talks, and the role various foods played. In England, each person enjoyed only ONE EGG every two weeks. Certainly a good time to live down on the farm. 


Consider the Little Mouse

Plautus wrote, “Consider the little mouse, how sagacious an animal it is which never entrusts his life to one hole only.”

As one who sees the world in black-and-white, Addie’s husband Harold clouds life’s joy. Things are good or bad, the Allies are losing the war if they lose one battle, and if the cows get out, someone’s to blame.

But Addie, steadfast in her determination to please Harold, can’t help but seeing the beauty in a downfall of walnuts that makes a huge mess for her to clean up in the driveway. One day, she spots her neighbor Jane’s innovative way of drying the walnuts on screens set on sawhorses.

Though Harold taunts her, she employs Jane’s tactics, thus saving herself bending over to retrieve the nuts, and as the green peelings turn to mush, a great deal of stain on her fingers.


Thinking outside the box–it’s the spark of life that makes each day fresh. It’s the ingenuity that keeps the gobblers down by the creek seeking new food sources as autumn cold arrives.

What might we learn this day? What might nature, or our friend down the road, teach us?

Recently I’ve had several responses to Addie’s story that hearten me to the core. One woman has certain pages earmarked, and Addie’s lessons are helping this reader through a difficult time in a relationship. Another thanks me for not making things easy for Addie–no pat answers, no platitudes.

It’s harvest time … walnuts and the fruits of writing. Ahhhh….a pleasant season! And if you haven’t become acquainted with Addie and Harold yet, please do–information at this address:

The sequel to Addie’s story, With Each New Dawn, releases in February, and broadens her world greatly!

Seasonal Changes

Back in the forties, autumn saw my heroines harvesting the last produce from their victory gardens, hauling burlap bags of potatoes and carrots to the hideaway under the windmill, drying walnuts to pick through on winter nights, and stripping dry bean and pea pods to save for next year’s seed.


With more time ahead for indoor work, perhaps some women looked forward to sewing and mending. Addie didn’t, that’s for sure. But she did enjoy knitting sweaters for the soldiers, and even tried her hand at fine stitching.

Recently, I found an amazing cache of someone’s hankies from that bygone era at a garage sale. The more I consider them, the more they overwhelm me with a sense of all the time someone spent  stitching their decorative touches.


Can you imagine the hours this required? And how about these?


So many colors … so much creativity. Picture some weary woman crafting these in her “leisure hours” after a full day of hard physical labor.


Those of us with limited stitching skills (I sew on buttons and  do hemming. Period), stand in awe. Besides fashioning these gems, the Greatest Generation women and their forebears carefully laundered and ironed these useful items, these tear catchers.

How things have changed, eh? Paper tissues catch our tears during life’s ups and downs. I’ve been going through some changes too. Yep. Because of an eye challenge, my computer time is now greatly limited – yes, I’m looking into one of those new-fangled speak-into-your-computer programs.

The past few weeks may have found me remiss with online duties, and that may continue. But stories still bounce around in my head, and the sequel to In Times LIke These will release with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in February 2017.

Several readers have encouraged me lately with their reviews of Addie’s story – one woman commended me for not giving Addie an easy way out. I try to hard to avoid pat answers, which really don’t help struggling people much. In her words:

            I appreciated that you didn’t have easy answers for Addie’s troubles.  I tend to shy-away from Christian fiction for fear of the platitudes. I have recommended this read to a couple of my friends.

So satisfying – words from readers mean so much! For those who’d like to communicate with me, I check my e-mail address, most often. Thank you.

And thanks for your patience, and oh! I’ve shared the title of the sequel numerous times, but it’s been changed to With Each New Dawn

As fall transforms into winter, may you keep discovering new reading delights!

A ROLLER COASTER Publishing Ride

Welcome to DARE TO BLOOM, Shannon! Readers, we’re part of Shannon Vannatter’s blog tour this month: see below for the other sites and GIVEAWAY information.

An award winning central Arkansas author, Shannon is a stay-at-home mom and pastor’s wife. She once climbed a mountain wearing gold wedge-heeled sandals which became known as her hiking boots.

Shannon has twelve published titles and is contracted for three more. Her books are available at,,,, and Learn more about Shannon and her books at and check out her real life romance blog at with weekly book giveaways.


Please describe your latest novel’s history, Shannon. 

Reuniting with the Cowboy started out with a working title of Rodeo Crossroads. It was supposed to be the final book in my rodeo series. But then the Heartsong Presents line closed leaving four books on my contract in limbo. But Harlequin decided to honor my contract through the Love Inspired line.

So now, Reuniting with the Cowboy ends the rodeo series in Aubrey, TX and kicks off a new cowboy series set in Bandera.

How did your main character evolve? 

Cody Warren was a side character in my last title, Rodeo Reunion. He’s a bull rider and was in a bull wreck and the heroine of Rodeo Reunion went to see him in the hospital since they were friends. They were bemoaning their lack of love lives. And he told her he loved Al. . ., then the pain meds knocked him out. The heroine asked around until she found out Ally Curtis was his friend in high school. Ally was her vet, so they knew each other. She gave Ally the idea to start a pet visitation program for the rehab center Cody was in, to promote her animal shelter and so they’d run into each other. It worked and the heroine left them alone, but when she came back to check on them, Ally was gone. She decided to hang up her matchmaking hat and leave them alone.

Where did you get your ideas for the plot of this novel? 

I’ve long wanted to write Cody’s story. He was the hero’s brother in Rodeo Queen, four books ago. He was the class clown, cut up, and showed up again in the last book. Ally was also mentioned in Rodeo Queen as the heroine’s best friend, so I knew she was the perfect heroine for him. I’m really glad it worked out so I could write their story.

I’ve always been an avid pet lover and considered being a vet. But the thought of having to put an animal to sleep stopped me. I got to vicariously live that life through Ally with her vet practice and stray shelter.

My husband’s aunt and a man in our church had the same health issue. So when I needed Cody to be hiding a secret medical condition, I knew a lot about this one. My husband’s aunt had surgery and is okay except for balance issues. The man in our church didn’t know his condition until it should have been too late. He shouldn’t have survived, so he’s a walking miracle.

How did the concept of piling troubles on your heroine play into your writing decisions?

I needed Cody to be even closer than living next door, so I put her shelter in jeopardy for being overlimit with cats. That way Cody could volunteer at the shelter and help her come up with ideas to publicize it. And when her shelter gets broken into, Cody realizes someone has it out for her and becomes her protector.

Please tell us about the challenge of weaving backstory into your novel – did that occur naturally, or did you have to “wrangle” with it?

It was easy. I had already set up that Cody and Ally were friends back in high school in the previous book, but Cody had fallen for her. In this book I expanded it—when her dad died, Cody comforted her and ended up kissing her. Things turned awkward and he left for the rodeo. But for ten years, they’d both been trying to come to terms with that kiss.

Could you share some of your feelings with us as you worked through the closing of the Heartsong Presents, and how you see this experience in hindsight?

It’s a long, eventful story. I’d been through it before, so that helped. My 1st four books, including the first Rodeo title were published by Heartsong Presents owned by Barbour. Just after I turned in book two of my rodeo series, I got the e-mail that Barbour was closing HP. They said my remaining two contracted books would probably eventually release as e-books only. My editor no longer had a job, so in effect my champion who loved my writing was gone. I truly thought I’d never be published again. I cried. And wailed. And moaned. To my husband, my critique partner, and anyone who would listen.

Three months later, I went to the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference and the editor in charge of wrapping up Heartsong told me to write book three, that someone was buying the line. I went from despair to giddy in two seconds flat. I wrote the book and just about the time I finished it, I learned Harlequin had bought the line. After riding the publishing roller coaster alone for so long, I decided it was time for an agent. I’d already had two which didn’t work out. My third agent is the right fit for me and has been a blessing.

By this time, Harlequin had convinced a few retail stores to carry Heartsong Presents for six months. HP had always been a direct to consumer book club, not in stores. Book three of my rodeo series released during that six months and sales soared. I was all excited again and my agent sold three more rodeo books to HP to continue my series. But then Walmart decided to cut the size of their fiction section and they didn’t have room for HP after the six month period. Sales plummeted and I felt like the line was dying.

I told my agent I wanted to write for Love Inspired. My first three books were set in Arkansas, my home state. I decided I wanted to do some more AR books. We sent a proposal for a three book series. They were rejected. She told me that the LI editor who oversaw the HP line really liked my rodeo books and convinced me to submit another series to HP.

By this time, I realized I had three dangling characters from the rodeo series, so I wrote a proposal for three more books in the series. HP wanted it, plus three more books and said I could figure out the last three titles when we got there. I decided Harlequin must have big plans to revive HP. I wrote the first two books, started the third, and sent a proposal for the final three—the Arkansas books that LI had rejected. My editor was always good about getting right back to me. But I heard nothing. Until I got an e-mail that Harlequin was ending the Heartsong Presents line. They really tried, but the line had been struggling for so long, not even Harlequin could revive it.

This time, I didn’t cry. I knew God had this and something would work out. My agent talked to the editor at LI, who’d overseen the HP line, about my rodeo books and how the final one, plus three more books were left on my contract. The editor said she’d love to move the remaining four titles to LI, but she wanted cowboy books, and there was no guarantee. But for the moment, they still considered me contracted. All I had to do was submit four stellar cowboy proposals that would fit the LI line. Talk about pressure. I had the final rodeo title all ready. But the other three were Arkansas and decidedly not cowboy. I decided to take the plots and characters, move them to Texas and cowboy them up. It took about a year of going back and forth with Harlequin, but I finally got the news that my remaining four books would release through LI.

I tell people I made it to LI by slipping through the back door that began when Harlequin bought HP.

What has your writing career taught you that you might not have learned otherwise, and what keeps you at this business? 

I’ve learned not to cry, or wail, or moan, or complain. God’s got this. And if he wants me to keep being published, he’ll take care of it. I keep trooping along because even with all the ups and downs and roller coaster of emotions, I still love to write. I love coming up with characters and their stories. I love making them do what I want them to—my crit partner says it’s like playing paper dolls on paper. I was a Barbie girl, so I play Barbie’s on paper. And most of all, I love weaving spiritual truths into their stories.

Reuniting with the Cowboy cover

The Cowboy Next Door 

A charming cowboy moving in next door shouldn’t be bad news. But veterinarian Ally Curtis knows Cody Warren—she’d never forget the boy who left her when she needed him most. Cody is doing everything he can to show his beautiful neighbor he’s not the wild bull rider he once was, from helping her find homes for her beloved strays, to protecting her when her business is threatened. But Cody has a secret that keeps him from fully reaching out. Yet as they continue to work together to promote her shelter, he can’t keep himself from hoping that Ally might have a home for him…in her heart.

Get your copy now:

Amazon           Christianbook         BarnesandNoble

Connect with Shannon: Shannon’s Facebook, Shannon’s Goodreads, Shannon’s Pinterest, Shannon’s Twitter, and Shannon’s Amazon Author Page

NOW FOR SHANNON’S GIVEAWAY:  Comment here to enter the drawing for a copy of Reuniting with the Cowboy. Ten copies will be split among names drawn during the blog tour from Sept 1 – 27. One winner will receive a Noah’s Ark themed memory board personally crafted by the author. This fabric is special since it was in the Vannatter nursery 14 years ago and goes along with the float the characters in the book build for a parade. Great for a shower gift or displaying kids or grandkids. Winners will be revealed on the author’s blog on Oct 8th.

Animal memory board

Follow the tour:

Sept 1:

Sept 3 & 7:

Sept 5:

Sept 5 –

Sept 12 & 15 –

Sept 13:

Sept 16:

Sept 21:

Sept 27th:




Worth Forgiving

First of all, Janet, your title and cover are fabulous! If I had to pen your goal for this novel it’d go something like this. God’s love overrides our past failures and the injustices of life. By embracing his healing and guidance, we move out of the shadows into the light. Did I hit it pretty close?

Sounds good to me, Gail. My motto or tagline is “Writing with God’s Hope,” so all my books deal with addictions, compulsions, or hang-ups that can’t be healed without God. The first book in the series, Worth Her Weight, focuses on food addiction. Worth Forgiving hits drug addiction as well as prejudice against those who are ex-cons. The twelve step programs remind us we’re powerless over such thing. Like you said, only God’s love can override past failures and injustices. In this new book, we learn not only about forgiving others, but the difficulty in forgiving ourselves.


 You have definitely mastered the art of piling troubles on your heroine! How did you learn to do that? 

I once took a course that reminded us to be “mean” to our characters. I guess that idea stuck. We must raise the stakes and make it even harder to reach our goal in order to accomplish a satisfactory ending.

Tell us about your intended audience. I’m assuming it’s Christian readers, mostly women? Do you have an underlying desire to create empathy in your readership for the down-and-out of our society? 

Oh, wow, Gail. You hit the nail on the head, to repeat an old, forbidden cliché. My target audience for both books in the series is women 25-50 with some church background. For thirty years of my life, I suffered from food addiction. I struggled with depression, and my self esteem hit bottom before I was ready to let go and let God.

Twenty years ago, God healed me emotionally. I am not the same person I was through my twenties, thirties, and forties. Through His guidance and grace, I lost one hundred pounds, quit biting my nails, and came out of the shadows to accomplish His purpose

Before I even lost all my weight, I began teaching weight controlling classes. I have a heart for those who fight food addiction or compulsive overeating. I am blessed that through my suffering, God gave me more empathy for those who suffer any addiction. Even when I’m not teaching, I have others who contact me for prayer or encouragement for their problems. I feel so blessed by God to be used in the thing that is my weakest area. Isn’t that just like God?

I haven’t read the first book in this series yet, but assume we get to know the heroine’s sister Lacey much better in that one. Which character do you identify with most? How did that character first occur to you?

I would have to say Lacey. Though Worth Her Weight isn’t my story, still Lacey coped with many things that I dealt with such as the suicide attempt. Despite that, I find that I can identify with others like Katie in Worth Forgiving who Satan has captured and built mental strongholds that only God can break.

Please tell us how creating the two books differed for you. I’m into writing a series, also, and it’s fun to hear more details about this process. 

The most fun part is visiting the old setting and old friends that you “met” while writing the first book.

The hardest part is that everything in one character’s life affects the other characters, so it’s imperative to keep good notes. Since Katie was in prison for three years, her four-year-old daughter would now be seven. Since Larry was injured in the crime that Katie perpetrated, I had to remember to give him a limp. Just stuff like that. Good, better, excellent notes, I hope. LOL!

Finally, give us a little background about YOU – how did you begin writing fiction, and what did you do before? 

I’ve always loved writing fiction. That’s my passion. When my daughters were little, I wrote and sold a few short stories. However, I settled into a writing career after I retired in 2006 from being a bookkeeper and medical coder.

I had finished ten novels by the time I received my first contract. All were adult fiction, except for one young adult, and that’s what sold first. Victoria and the Ghost debuted in 2012.

Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness was God’s surprise, my one and only, so far, non-fiction. He woke me up one night and gave me fourteen devotions to help overeaters. I thought it was just to help me, but four years and three hundred and sixty-five devotions later, both Pen-L Publishing and myself believed it was a tool to help others. Later, this year, they will release a workbook to compliment the devotion book, so my non-fiction days aren’t completely over. Neither are my fiction days, because the third in the Wharton Rock series should release in 2017.

owfi & Mothers Day 006

Worth Forgiving Second in the Wharton Rock Series

Prejudice and mistrust hinder an ex-con, drug addict’s new beginning. The state of Texas releases from prison Katie Smith. Full of optimism, she sets out to get a job, rent her own place, and make a home for her eight-year-old daughter, but Katie gave away her daughter three years ago. She could use a friend, but her past choices threaten to doom her to continued failure.

Larry Pullman graduated from seminary with high marks, but having no wife makes finding a preaching job almost impossible. It doesn’t help that running from God as a teenager gave him a past he can’t undo. All he needs is an ex-con, drug addict messing up his life, but then why did God lead him to her? Or did He?

Isn’t it enough that Lacey Chandler gave her sister’s daughter a home? Does that mean she has to clean up Katie’s messes forever?

Could it be that Katie is not Worth Forgiving?

PURCHASE LINK: Worth Forgiving

Janet is giving away an e-book of Worth Forgiving to one commenter here. Thanks so much for your visit, Janet. 

Have You Opened the Gift of Grace? – August 22, 2016

Welcome to Lucinda Secrest McDowell, author of “Dwelling Places.”

She writes about the marvels of the gift of grace

Best gift I ever received.

Grace. In fact, it quite literally changed my life.

Sadly I had been a Christ follower for many years before I actually opened this precious gift I’d been carrying around. I never understood that grace was God’s gift we don’t deserve and can never earn.

So I kept trying to please God and get everything ‘just right’ so that He might love me more and consider me worthy. Striving was my dwelling place and despair was my landing place every time I failed at perfection. Until one day, in His mercy, God stooped down (the Hebrew word for grace means “to stoop”) and lifted me up.

He reminded me that I am already loved, already accepted, already chosen for kingdom work — not because of anything I have done — but simply because I am His own. And that, dear friend, is the Gift of Grace.

Because we live in a world of reward and punishment, it is difficult to grasp the idea of receiving something we don’t deserve. And yet that’s the very nature of grace as Paul explains, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”(Ephesians 2:8-9)

Perhaps this acronym says it best – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Jesus willingly gave up His life on the cross and rose from the grave so that we would be set free from sin, death and the enemy of our souls.

Frederich Buechner explains “The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you will reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.”

I used to dwell in a place of judgment, performance, rules, hurry and approval. Nothing was enough. I could never rest; there was always, always more to do. Grace reminds me that my love and the outpouring of my life for the kingdom flow from knowing with confidence that, though I am not worthy, as God’s child I am totally received and loved.

Out of that I pour myself at Jesus’ feet every morning, asking “How can I spread Your grace to others today?”

Do you need more grace in your life? The great news is it is already here for you if you are a child of the King. Just like when I’m home in the South and order a big breakfast at the diner. When I choose bacon and eggs on the menu, the plate always arrives with grits as well. “Honey, you don’t have to special order grits, down here they just come with!” the waitress cheerfully explains.

Grace ‘comes with’ your commitment to Christ. So, open the gift and dwell in the love. Then, be sure and pass it along to others.

©2016 Excerpted from “Dwelling Places” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell (Abingdon Press, 2016)


Lucinda Secrest McDowell is passionate about embracing life — both through deep soul care from drawing closer to God, as well as living courageously in order to touch a needy world. A storyteller who engages both heart and mind, she offers “Encouraging Words” to all on the journey. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, Cindy is the author of twelve books, including Dwelling Places, Live These Words, Refresh!, Amazed by Grace, Quilts from Heaven and Role of a Lifetime. Whether co-directing the “New England Christian Writers Retreat,” mentoring young moms, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Cindy’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things. She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at

Please leave a comment for Cindy to qualify for her giveaway drawing of one signed copy of Dwelling Places.



Oh MY!

Tonight when my husband and I returned from a walk at the close of this rainy Iowa day, we were looking up at the roof for some reason, and I spotted something that looked like a bird…sort of. But bigger.

Lance is nothing if he’s not persevering. He hung out until he captured an image of the creature…I can’t believe it! We have cardinals, house wrens, hummingbirds, and of course, crows in our yard. But this…never thought I’d see the like. Not here in our yard.


Isn’t this the cutest baby owl? I’ve never spied one before, and this one added excitement to a rather gloomy, although productive day here in the Midwest. I’m a lot like my fiction characters, I guess – it doesn’t take a whole lot to make my day.

And this experience also goes to show that you can enjoy someone else’s hobby almost as much as you enjoy your own. Barn owls have made appearances in my historical fiction, and this little one…oh yes, you can bet she (or he) will pop up somewhere in a future story.